March 15, 2008
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Navy designated hitter Mitch Harris (Sr./Mt. Holly, N.C.) homered for the third-straight game and belted a go-ahead triple in the seventh to help the Midshipmen to a 5-4 victory over Maine on Saturday afternoon at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium. The Midshipmen won their third-straight contest to improve to 9-6 on the year, while the Black Bears lost their fourth-consecutive game to dip to 5-10.
"Today was a great college baseball game and it was good to come out on the positive side," stated third-year Navy head coach Paul Kostacopoulos, who coached Maine to two NCAA Tournament appearances in his nine years in Orono before taking over in Annapolis. "I still have a ton of friends over there (at Maine). It was nice to play a good game against them."
Harris became the first player in program history to record a home run in three-straight games twice during his career. The Navy cleanup hitter belted his first home run of the year at Maryland-Eastern Shore on Thursday before hitting a pair on Friday against Monmouth and one against Maine on Saturday. Harris smashed a home run in three-consecutive games last year during a series sweep of Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. The only other player in school history to go deep in three-straight contests is Mark Zematis, who achieved the feat against East Carolina in 2000.
"Mitch is an exceptional athlete that does some things that sometimes doesn't show up in the box score," stated Kostacopoulos. "He's always fighting out there - you need a guy like that. He just means that much to us and has been all over the baseball since his return to the lineup."
Navy fell into a 2-0 hole after two and a half innings, but avoided further damage with some clutch pitching. After Maine had runners on the corners and nobody out with its second run of the game already scored, Navy starter Mark McCoy (Sr./Parkland, Fla.) worked his way out of the tenuous spot unscathed with a groundout and back-to-back strikeouts.
The Midshipmen carried that momentum into the bottom half of the frame, taking a 3-2 lead. Renaldo Hollins
(Sr./Virginia Beach, Va.) tripled down the line and came home to score on a Jonathan Wright
(Fr./Arden, N.C.) single through the left side. Michael Speciale
(So./Pearland, Texas) followed with a single on a hit-and-run before Thomas Hamilton
(Sr./Houston, Texas) plated Wright on a single to center. Speciale would give Navy its first lead of the game when he crossed home plate on a Jeff Bland
(Fr./Basking Ridge, N.J.) single through the left side.
Navy extended its lead to 4-2 in the fifth, when Harris smashed a 2-0 offering from Maine starter Joe Miller over the fence in deep centerfield, approximately 410 feet.
Maine would not go quietly, as it rallied to tie the game at four in the seventh and chase McCoy out of the contest with one out in the inning and a runner on first. However, Navy closer JD Melton (So./Myrtle Beach, S.C.) induced an inning ending double play to keep the game tied.
Once again, Navy carried that energy from the half-inning before to take the lead, this time for good. Hamilton drew a one-out walk before Harris delivered a triple to the gap in right-center on a 0-2 count to give the Mids a 5-4 advantage.
Melton got into some trouble in the eighth inning, as the Black Bears produced back-to-back one-out singles to put runners on first and second. However, Maine's lead runner was gunned down by Bland at third base on an attempted double-steal for the second out of the inning. The Navy reliever followed with a groundout to end the eighth and three-straight groundouts in the ninth to preserve the victory.
Melton was credited for the win on Saturday, as he did not allow a run or a walk in 2.2 innings on the hill to improve his record to 1-1. The right-hander threw only 26 pitches and saw his ERA drop to 1.08 on the year following his performance against the Black Bears.
"JD has had better command this year," stated Kostacopoulos. "He's been able to bring the ball into left-handed hitters more this season. We haven't used him too much this year, but we have really needed him in each of the last-two days."
McCoy did not factor in the decision, but was solid for the Midshipmen. He lasted 6.1 innings and scattered nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts over a 97-pitch afternoon.
"Mark did a great job - he did what we wanted to see out of him," said Kostacopoulos. "He really got better as the game went along. The critical point came in the sixth inning with a fast runner (Billy Cather) on first and a good hitter (Myckie Lugbauer) at the plate. He battled for 12 pitches and threw over to first quite a bit before getting a groundball double play to short."
Harris finished the game 2-for-4 at the plate, while Mike Guadagnini (Fr./Virginia Beach, Va.) went 3-for-4 with a stolen base. Over his last-three games, Guadagnini has hit at a .571 (8-for-14) clip. Hamilton also extended his hitting streak to 10 games, as he went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks on Saturday.
The Midshipmen will close out the weekend looking for their fourth-straight win when they host Duquesne (2-10) tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. Live stats for all of Navy's home games will be available via GameTracker on www.NavySports.com(.)